I wonder if I am too lost in the craft to enter that place where I’m lost in the writing. I know I haven’t let myself live the truth of one of my last posts, of letting the research and the outlines and the story notes go when I’m ready to write and just write. I know, even though I don’t want to, that I let it all get in the way during the revision process. My brain continually whispers, “no, you HAVE to reference this, that, AND the other thing to show you’ve grown as a writer in this next draft and to prove you’re a better writer now because you just finished that book right there.”
I love to write. Just write. I pulled out this box that’s been sitting on my bookshelf in my bedroom since we moved into our home nearly four years ago. I knew it held some writing that I didn’t want to get lost floating around our old home, because I didn’t have a dedicated writing space or office back then. Inside of the box, I found old personal notes and journaling-s from when I was pregnant with my first daughter. I also found the very beginning drafts of the story that I keep going back to and then setting aside. Those drafts are from 2012. It’s funny that I should unearth those drafts because one of my friends in my peer critique group made a comment the last time we got together, when we needed a night to support one another without an agenda for critiquing or work, of how much she loved the story when I mentioned I didn’t think I could finish it. I flipped through those first drafts and the notebook filled with scenes and drafts of chapters and my fingers tingled with the electricity of my joy and energy in the story. Back then, I wasn’t analyzing or researching or stressing so hard about my craft. I was lost in the joy of my stories.
Moving forward, I want to find a better balance of the two. This feels like a pendulum swing, where one extreme is intense focus on craft and one is reckless abandon in unfocused writing. Bettering my craft is important and I won’t become a better writer without that piece of this journey. BUT, I can’t let that part of the journey take away the joy of just writing. My stories are what matter most. One of the best pieces of writing advice I’ve heard time and again is that a writer shouldn’t set out to write someone else’s story; a writer should set out to write the story that only they can write.
What helps you move away from the craft and into the writing? How have you found ways to separate your thinking-writer mind from your writer mind?
I’ve been having that same debate with myself. I’ve been focusing so much on craft and story structure that sometimes I feel like that joy of writing from the heart has been lost. Back in the day I would write a novel and my revision process was all about shaping it into the story I wanted to tell, not what other “experts” say my story should be. I miss that, as much as I can see how much I’ve grown – writing has always been my favorite way to express myself (I’m terrible when it comes to verbal expression!!). Especially with the novel I’m currently revising, I got so focused on what I thought other people wanted from this novel that I covered up what was really at the heart of it. The revision process is that much harder because of it.